Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw – Polish Gastronomy: inside the global avant garde


Polish Gastronomy - Inside the Global Avant Garde
Curator - Ryan Frederick Bromley
Museum Partners: Sebastian Cichocki & Bogna Olszewska

Speaker: Wojciech Modest Amaro, Chef
Speaker: Marek Cecuła, Porcelain Designer
Speaker: Ryan Frederick Bromley

Workshop: Ryan Frederick Bromley & Wojciech Modest Amaro 



Within art institutions I had come to recognise an absence of discourse surrounding the relevance of food in art. Other cultural disciplines were quick to embrace food in order to benefit from its vast popular audience; fashion, design, literature, academia, and others had incorporated food into their project work and programming because it attracted greater 'foot-fall'. Despite the general acceptance of food in culture, most art institutions have been reluctant to incorporate food into their programming for lack of a suitable theory that can explain its engagement with art. This sentiment had been conveyed to me by Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern, over a dinner in Delhi at the home of Mrs. Geeta Kapur, a prominent Indian art critic. On that occasion, Mr. Dercon explained that there needed to be a curatorial bridge built between gastronomy and art in order for the museum to feel comfortable embracing the subject; however, if that bridge could be built then programming would most likely follow. This event was a step towards building that bridge. I understood that the positioning of the event was important to achieving this critical aim. The venue for this event needed to be respected enough in the art world to carry sway, yet also flexible enough in their programming to consider hosting a 'food event'. I found the perfect venue in the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art.   

My aim in this event was to position the discourse concerning the suitability of the chemical senses for art at the intersecting points between art, design and gastronomy; hoping that this delineation would soften the ground for conversations with art influencers. I assembled the best practitioners that I could to stand with me in this intersection. Chef Wojciech Modest Amaro rocketed to fame as the creator of the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Polish history. With stages in Ferran Adria's, El Bulli, and Rene Redzepi's, Noma, Amaro was an instant success within the Polish gastronomic community as well is in the popular press. Designer Marek Cecuła is not only the director of Poland's most important ceramics factory, he is also the founding director of an internationally respected design residency for art porcelain. Cecuła also works as a visiting lecturer in leading international art institutions. Over the past decade, Cecuła has focussed much of his attention on the intersection between food, design and art, making him the perfect person to engage in this conversation.

While the sensation of Chef Amaro drew in a crowd, the sensibility of Cecuła elevated the conversation into the language of art. I sought to frame the question of the suitability of the chemical senses in art in a language that fluctuated between that of gastronomy, art and design, with the aim of receiving approval by the audience, the speakers and the art museum. The public audience was invited to the lecture, however, the workshop was by invitation only for a group of carefully selected participants. As one of the aims of the event was to raise awareness of this discourse, I managed to secure television coverage through a partnership with Canal+, as well as feature publications in Kukbuk and Smak, two of Poland's most important food magazines.

Project Description

The event ran fluidly, with each speaker talking eloquently about their work within their respective industries. The moderator of the Q&A panel that I had chosen, Kamil Antosiewicz, struggled to cut to the heart of the issues, however, this did not detract from the overall success of the event. The questions from the audience were vague and easy, but there was an effort to engage with the subject matter despite a lack of capacity for articulation.

The workshop was far more sensual in nature. The aim of my workshop was to introduce the Indian aesthetic philosophy of Rasa as a relevant paradigm for the aesthetic and conceptual considerations of food and fragrance. I did this by creating a relaxing sensual encounter with food through the use of Indian masala chai, candle light, raga music and incense, and then proceeded to shatter the soft aesthetics with the shocking odor of turpentine. Chef Amaro presented samples from his menu, including a sort of edible bark made from locally foraged ingredients. Both presentations were well received by the participants.


Perhaps the greatest gauge of the success of this event at the local level was the expressed desire by the museum to have me organise an event with them again.   While this is certainly flattering, it also provides evidence that there was merit to Chris Dercon's earlier comments concerning food programming and art. For me, this means that the arguments that I presented held sway with their curatorial sensibilities.   










 Polish Gastronomy: Inside the Global Avant Garde
Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland



















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